EL PASO, Texas - The Texas Department of Transportation Commission approved the removal of toll lanes on the Cesar Chavez/Loop 375 Highway on Thursday morning, marking the last hurdle in effort to remove the toll lanes.
Texas State Representative Joe Pickett has been lobbying for the removal of the lanes for several months, and the actions today at the TxDot Commission meeting marks the first toll removal from a State Highway System road in 40 years.
During arguments earlier this year, Pickett claimed that the toll roads did the opposite of the intended purpose - they did not relieve congestion and instead have made it worse. He also claimed that the tolls have not made profit, but have built up debt.
The tolls were used by 6% of the driving traffic and didn't bring in much money, Pickett said in June.
"This is an important day for the El Paso community, and will become a discussion held around the state on the effectiveness of certain tolled projects through the state," Pickett said.
The toll removal officially begins September 1st, however Representative Pickett has sent a letter requesting that the Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority take action to suspend tolls for the short period between now and September 1.
"No reason to wait, and some motorists may believe the toll removal is effective immediately and could be subject to tolls and fines unnecessarily," Pickett stated.
The letter went on to thank former Mayor Oscar Leeser and current Mayor Dee Margo for their assistance in the removal of the toll lanes. Margo was present in Austin this morning for the committee meeting.